By Dave Welsh
Nell Myhand, holding a clipboard. To her immediate right, with bullhorn, is Maria Poblet.
Photo: Judith Scherr
A bank and a real estate company thought they were going to auction off Nell Myhand’s home at noon on March 8, but Myhand and about a hundred of her friends had other ideas.
To the beat of drums, pots and pans, cymbals and Haitian shakers, an International Women’s Day flash-mob stormed the steps of the county courthouse here and dogged the auctioneer until he finally gave up. So Myhand, a movement veteran of Occupy Oakland and Global Women’s Strike, was still in her Oakland home as of March 10.
“We have to fight tooth and nail for our homes,” said Maria Poblet, executive director of Causa Justa: Just Cause, a Bay Area social justice organization. “For the banks like Wells Fargo, it’s just an investment. But for us, these are our homes. Women’s rights and housing rights, these are not separate things. The majority of foreclosures are on women-led households. But they’re picking a fight with women that they will not win.”
The Latino/a community and Occupy Oakland turned out in force for the action. They chanted, “No, no, no way, ain’t gonna be no sale today” and “No se vende.”
A sign read, “These are hard-working people’s homes: We will not allow them to be sold.” People jeered at the sheriff’s deputies: “Why aren’t you out investigating all this mortgage fraud?” (Go to youtu.be/cTXKuItn8pg for a video of the demonstration.)
Homeowner ‘occupies’ her own home
A day later, 40 miles away from Oakland in the foreclosure hotbed of Antioch, Calif., a real estate broker named Rick Fuller counted on seizing the home of Rosie Alvarado on behalf of investors. It was part of a foreclosure action that Alvarado says was full of irregularities.
But she is also a leader of a homeowners’ group called the Bay Area Moratorium, which is fighting the foreclosure epidemic and calling for a two-year moratorium on all foreclosure actions so people can stay in their homes.
So Alvarado and about 20 of her friends “occupied” her home, in direct defiance of the foreclosure machine that has stolen so many thousands of people’s homes in this region. When Fuller drove up to the house in his SUV, he was turned away by a group of angry homeowners shaking their fists at him.
Resistance to the foreclosure mills is growing and spreading as people discover the power of collective action. On Feb. 29, a crowd from Bay Area Moratorium met in Sacramento to present a toughly worded “Notice and Complaint of Violation of Civil Rights” to California Attorney General Kamala Harris. It was signed by more than 70 homeowners, including Alvarado and Delia Pedroza-Aguilar, co-founder of the Moratorium group.
The complaint said that “national banks, debt collectors, law firms and investors are parties that have conspired … against homeowners with their willful disregard of applicable law and willful collusion upon the court to evict and cheat homeowners out of their homes through a fraudulent foreclosure. …
“This claim of ownership to our homes and land without a judicial trial by jury … without access to an appeals process, constitutes an unfair final judgment by a court, represents a taking of property without due process, and is in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments to our Federal Constitution.
“The national banks, law firms and investors have until now abusively used the organs and institutions of the government in their fraudulent quests to obtain court orders,” knowing that judges would “rule in their favor and grant them, through fraud, illegal writ of possession to our private lands and properties.”
The homeowners’ complaint demanded that the state attorney general and county sheriffs cease and desist from enforcing fraudulent evictions and foreclosures, citing “the defrauding banks’ improper securitization of promissory notes,” “utilization of ‘robosigners’ — essentially a forgery,” and the banks’ “inability to provide unaltered, original/wet ink signature copy on the note.”